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The Best Diamond For Your Dollar

November 28th, 2011 by Jeannine

The Best Diamond For Your Dollar

The holidays are upon us, which means some grooms-to-be are probably on the hunt for that perfect diamond for their bride-to-be! Without a doubt, an engagement ring is a big ticket item, but it’s definitely possible to find that dream ring within your budget, all you need is some compromise and the help from an expert in the field. I decided to learn about diamonds myself and find out what affects the price of a diamond. I visited Minichiello Jewellers in Downtown Vancouver and had a chat with Manager, Danny Amado.

Minichiello Jewellers is family-owned and they have been in business since 1958. Coming from humble beginnings as a Granville Street vendor, they successfully expanded and have been a fixture on Robson and Granville for over 50 years. They have since moved to their new location at the Rogers Building on Granville and Pender. Minichiello prides themselves on their customer service and their desire to give their clients a better quality diamond for an affordable price. I asked Danny to start with the basics… the 4 C’s of Diamonds:


Clarity determines how many inclusions or imperfections there are on the stone. Diamonds classified from VVS1 to SI2 are flawless to the eye, while imperfections can easily be seen on I1 to I3 diamonds. See the GIA Clarity Grading System here.

Danny’s Recommendation: I like stones that are VS2 or SI1. They’re a little bit nicer, a little bit cleaner, you get a good value in a stone like that. If you buy a VVS1 or VVS2 you’re really buying something that you’ll never ever see, so I try to keep first time buyers from stones like that.”


Diamonds of the best quality are colorless, and the lower you go on the scale, the more you’ll notice a brown or yellow tint on the stone. On the GIA Color Grading Scale, D, E, F, and G diamonds are considered toneless stones, meaning they have no color, but if you compare the D stone with the G stone, you may notice that the G is a warmer white than the icy cold white D.

Danny’s Recommendation: ”I think good valued stones are F, they’re still colourless stones, they’re up and above a G.”


If sparkle is important to you, you have to pay attention to the cut of a diamond. A well-cut diamond is very lively, with a lot of “fire” Danny says. However, if the stone is poorly cut, it can look flat and dead, which is not what you want for such an important piece of jewelry! Round Brilliant Cut diamonds have the most facets cut into a diamond compared to the rest of the Fancy cuts like Princess, Cushion, or Emerald. This means that the Round cuts will give the most sparkle than any Fancy cut diamond; however, Fancy cuts can sometimes cost 20% less than Rounds.

Danny’s Recommendation: “There’s not a big difference between an excellent and a good from the naked eye. You really have to have a trained eye to see these qualities. If you are tossed up between a round and princess cut I would have the customer look at Cushion shape diamonds. They have softer corners than a princess cut, cost less than round cut diamonds and are a great compromise for look and value.”


The last C is probably the first C that comes to mind when people choose a diamond. Carat determines the stone’s size or weight. The size of a diamond really affects it’s price. Danny says the average cost of an engagement ring is between $4,000 to $6,000, which can get you a 0.75 to 0.90 carat diamond, but size is not all that matters.

Danny’s Recommendation: “They can get a better quality 0.90 carat for what they would spend on a 1 carat. The price of a 0.90 to a 1 ct goes up exponentially more as you increase the carat size. In the diamond world, half carat markers (0.5, 1 and 2 carats) the price always goes up exponentially more to the next size.”

From left to right: 0.70 ct, 0.90 ct, and 1 ct – not much difference visually but you’ll really notice it in your bank account!

Danny says there are other factors that affect the pricing of an engagement ring:

  • Rarity – The better the attributes on a stone, the more rare it is, which means you’ll be paying for it.
  • Metals – Danny recommends a 19K gold because it is the hardest and whitest of all gold. Platinum, on the other hand, is twice the price as 19K white gold and much softer. For traditionalists, don’t think that you can save a few bucks by choosing yellow gold, Danny says the cost is just the same as white.
  • Solitaires vs. Multi-stone rings – Which do you think is more cost-effective? If you answered solitaire, you’re right! Danny says they tend to be cheaper because you are simply paying for the cost of gold and labour. With multi-stone engagement rings, there’s the added expense for the extra stones, setting time, and labour.
  • The Stone – Choosing a different type of stone (rather than a diamond) will decrease the cost by a lot. Danny says he’s designed rings with blue sapphires, topaz’s, or even amethysts as the primary stone. Going this route can cost you 70-80% less than the cost of a diamond ring.

Ready to Shop?

Before you set foot in a jewelry store, set your budget and stick to it. During your consultation, ask a lot of questions so you are well-informed of what you are getting, and remember, find a ring that suits your fiancées personal taste as well as your budget. Danny recommends you to pay more attention to the Cut and Color, 2 of the biggest attributes you’re going to see on a diamond. If size matters, you can get a good value in a 0.85 and 0.90 carat stone, without paying the 1 carat price. If budget is REALLY an issue, and you REALLY want to propose, you can always buy a temporary smaller stone and upgrade to a better one later on. Minichiello Jewellers has an awesome policy where, if you purchase your engagement ring with them, they will buy back your diamond at the same price you paid for it, and you can just pay the difference on your upgraded stone.

I’d like to thank Danny for taking the time and educating me in this topic… it doesn’t hurt that I got to take a look at beautiful jewelry the whole time too! Be sure to pop in and say hi, and if you’re looking for a ring, Danny says he will always make sure that you get what you want for your price point.

All photos by Vancity Bride

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